“Meetings are a weapon of mass interruption,” says Al Pittampalli, author of Read This Before Our Next Meeting, and truer words about the workplace have never been spoken. Workdays are full of meetings that waste time, accomplish little, and get in the way of actual work.
Interestingly, when it comes to meetings, the age old wisdom that time is money is easily forgotten. Something as minimal as a monthly staff meeting could equal a cost of $180,000 a year. Plus, research shows that meetings deplete our finite amount of cognitive resources, compromising our ability to focus and make good decisions.
How do we get rid of the business world’s collective bad habit?
Identifying types of meetings helps determine when to use more efficient or appropriate methods than blocking time out of everyone’s day. Think about two P’s: purpose and participants. What is the meeting for, and who really needs to be there to get that done?
If your meeting is informational, it’s not necessary to physically gather employees, as such communication is not tied to a place or time. Web-based systems for collaboration and project management are especially useful here.
If you need to disseminate information, all you have to do is present it. Make a webinar (try GoToWebinar, or Join.me), keep documents in one place so that people don’t have to rummage in their inboxes, or create a company intranet such as wiki or Google site that can serve as a common resource.
Status meetings are one of the biggest time-wasting meeting culprits. Comprehensive web-based project management systems, such as Podio, Basecamp, or 5pm, can track and report relevant progress online, on people’s own schedule. iDoneThis is a simple email-based service that is targeted for status and progress reporting.
The hardest type of meeting to replace is one where participants must come to a decision. Nevertheless, there are options besides wrangling a time to come around a conference table, which are especially useful if your employees are in different locations or travel often. Use web-based video and call conferencing such as MeetingBurner, GoToMeeting, Skype, and other online meeting services, or try CampFire> to conference through group and voice chat.
If you’re an employee stuck suffering through meetings, download LBi’s Cost of Meeting App (COMA), and show your employer just how much money they’re wasting!